The weather is cooling down in the Valley of the Sun, which means one thing for us at It’s time… for some Desert Time. Imperial Arms has been busy building AK variants, and MMP Guns placed an order for some exclusive in house builds. One which caught my eyes was the Magpul edition made specifically for MMP Guns.

When Byron was coordinating the line up of guests for the podcasts, one of the first suggestions was for the owner of Imperial Arms, and a request to test his AZ built AK variants. I’m a fan of the AK platform for all the reasons why people dig AKs. But I’m a geek for modern refinements on the platform. I own and have owned several AK variants through the years. Like with all firearms, I go through phases. Of late, I’ve been less interested in the traditional look, and more interested in the “modern” adaptations of the AK.

Slapping Magpul furniture on an AK is nothing new. To some it’s an atrocity, to others , it’s “tacticool”. I’m not much for attaching things to firearms for looks. But, if the adaptations provide value in performance as well as looks, I’m all about it. Having said that, what looks cool, and is said to work well doesn’t always deliver as promised. There’s only one way to find out if a gun does what it says it does. You have to “make it do what it do”, Desert Time fits the bill.

Having fired numerous AK47 variants in the past, I had some preconceived notions about the Imperial Arms version. While it looked really cool, I suspected that it was simply another AK variant with a Tapco G2 or some other trigger job. If you have any familiarity with an AK47 variant, you know there is only so much you can do with an AK variant platform. AK47s and their civilian variants (yes…I am using the correct terminology so AK devotees do not blow up the comment section with “it’s a variant not a real AK 47”) are crudely made rifles with loose tolerances designed to be able to be reproduced in the alleys of Afghanistan using materials salvaged from farm implements.

When the basic platform is designed to be rugged, loose fitting, and simplistic…the expectations for “upgrading” or “massaging” it into a modern battle rifle are not high, at least not for me. I was pleasantly surprised, as was Joe. Our cameraman Chris has an Imperial under folder build from a Romy G kit that he raves about. I was loading up the mags when he began firing his. To my ear, and with my field of view turned away from him, I thought he was bump firing his rifle from the shoulder. He told me he was just firing it normally. Well dang, it sounded like it was being bump fired. First clue the internals and trigger of these guns have been worked on.

Chris’ under folder built from a Romanian kit with all matching numbered parts.

Next up, the MMP build was going to the line. I brought out 4 mags for testing. A Romanian surplus, Tapco, Pro Mag, and a Bulgarian Circle 10. AK variants don’t usually fail (unless it’s an IO Inc, or early Century blind monkey build), but if they do, it’s usually magazine related. Primarily “custom” AK variants fail because they are built for a favored existing magazine, or proprietary magazine suited for that particular builder. I was interested in seeing if the Imperial Arms sample could fit and feed a variety of common magazines. It did, and without any noticeable mag wobble. One big plus for the gun thus far.

If you own an AK variant, you know how annoying that mag wobble can be. We ran about 300 rounds of surplus mystery steel core and steel cases ammo through the gun. The ammo was loose and unboxed. It was dirty and covered in combloc lacquer and dirt. It was corrosive and somewhat corroded to the eye as well. No failures of any type. Another plus for Imperial Arms.

Now for the most impressive thing about the gun. It shot incredibly soft and smoothly. There was a noticeable lack of felt recoil common with AK variants. The muzzle rise was also minimal. Most of my shooting was at 75-100 yards, and shooting double taps. I was able to reacquire the sights very quickly, and keep my shots in minute of torso consistently.

Again, this was a quick function test, not an accuracy or torture test so we did not put up targets or properly range them. We basically wanted to test general functionality and reliability. For what it’s worth, it shot smoother than any AK variant I can remember shooting, including Arsenals. I’m not saying this is better or as good as an Arsenal, so don’t get riled up. I’m saying that it felt, to me, better than any other AK variant I remember shooting, including Arsenals. And now I know why. This is the owner’s description of the builds by Imparial Arms.

Taken from a post on the Those posters know their AKs, and I lurk there. Thanks guys!

My first impressions are the fit and finish of the rifle is on par with any other high end builder. The rivet work, mag fit, overall finish, were done well. There are no noticeable machining marks visible to the naked eye. The sights are on point and not canted. The owner will be on the podcast and I will be asking specific questions about the build. But so far, so good. You can see our shooting video on the link below.

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